Date: 2/4/99 AM Central Standard Time
From: Broken831(Jacob's Screen Name then)
To: MBanks9999(Our screen name then)
Dear Mom, Dad, & Matt,
I have a hard time saying what I mean in person so I figured I'd write it
down. Isn't this information age/E-mail thing cool? Anyway, I just wanted to
tell you all that I appreciate your being there for me over the years. I really
could not have asked for a better, more loving family, Sure, we've all made
mistakes, but we are all new to this game...there is no trial round before you
are shot out into life. No one ever guaranteed that life was going to be easy,
nor did they guarantee that we wouldn't all have our share of heartaches and
blessings. My greatest blessing is the family I was raised in.
Dad, I understand that your main concern is for my salvation, and rest
assured that I will see you again in heaven. I might be a little bit jaded
because of all that life has dealt me, but that doesn't mean that there is no
grace in my life. I thank God for every day I have and will have until it is
over. Life hasn't exactly treated me with the ease and comfort that some
people have. It is hard to stay focused on God when everything around you
is falling apart, but trust me, in the end I have decided to live my life for the
Lord. Maybe my idea of being a Christian differs from yours, but Jesus said
"If a man believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth, he is saved." A
lot of my animosity toward religion comes because I'm young, and
inexperienced. I'm just an angry young man trying to make do with what life
has dealt him. But I never fell away from God's calling on my life. You can
ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I am the most
generous person they know. And not because I'm trying to gain "brownie
points" with God, but because it makes me feel good in my spirit to help
someone else out. It makes me feel good to feel their hurt and try to be
empathetic. We have that in common.
Mom, I know you're scared of what is coming up for me, and I am probably
more scared than you will ever be. Although I may not show it, I am very
afraid of the future. I don't want to leave you and the great family I have. I
remember sitting up till 3 AM with you, and thinking I was so big because I
was sitting up with my mom watching TV till all hours of the morning. That
made me feel so good. We were best friends at one point in life, I would
love to get back to that point with you. I love you mom.
Matt, where do I start? You are my brother, and we share the bond that
only brothers share. I know I'm hard on you sometimes, but that's just
because of two things. First being because I've made plenty of mistakes in
my life, and I want you to learn from them. Secondly because I am jealous
of you and always have been. You were born with a perfect body, and a
very intelligent mind. I never will be able to do the things that you do.
Someday soon, I hope to be able to go work out with you and hang out with
We've been through a lot together and we have a lot more to go through.
Just remember as we face this new challenge that I love you all, and I am
more than grateful for all the love and help you have given me throughout
my 20 years.
Your loving, grateful son,
Click pictures to enlarge:
|Jacob Ryan Bankston was born on August 31, 1978 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Jacob was the second child of Linda and Joel Bankston.
Just four weeks after Jacob was born, Linda and Joel found out from a routine check-up that
he had a heart problem.
As a child, Jacob enjoyed riding bikes, learning, fishing and just having fun with his mom, dad
and friends he made at school and in his neighborhood. At five and one half years old,
Jacob had his first open heart surgery. Just a few weeks after this surgery, Jacob was back to
himself and entered first grade at Victory Bible Fellowship.
Jacob excelled in school and began second grade at Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge.
Jacob continued to do well physically and academically.
|Jacob’s sixth grade was his first year in the public school system. He entered the gifted
program at Sherwood Middle School in Baton Rouge where he enjoyed being part of the
“Beta Club”, “Youth in Legislature” and “Quiz Bowl” team.
Jacob made many friends in middle school from all his academic and social ventures. Many of
the friends he made in middle school were friends throughout his college years. One of Jacob's
best friends was his mom. He loved to spend late summer nights reading and watching
television with her. One of their favorite shows was “Jeopardy”.
Jacob also learned to drive his first 280Z car when he was thirteen.
Jacob loved to travel and went with his dad on a business trip to New Jersey and New York in
1991. He was in the eighth grade then. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and
thirteen years old, the prime of Jacob’s short life. In the summer of 1992, Jacob began to
become short of breath. The brave little boy, who at six years old had open-heart surgery,
where they replaced his natural heart valve with a stainless steel mitral valve, was becoming a
young man out growing the valve sewn in years earlier.
Although out of breath, Jacob still loved playing hide and seek , football and making movies
with neighborhood friends. Many times he would run and then just sit. After catching his
breath, he would take off again shouting and playing. He also loved to dress formally for dates
to movies and proms. He was always such a gentleman.
Jacob dreamed of being a doctor, a writer, a counselor , husband and father. The next few
years of Jacob’s life became a real struggle. In October of 1992, just six weeks after Jacob had
entered high school at Christian Life Academy, Jacob had a second open-heart surgery. Unlike
the first surgery where in just a few weeks Jacob was up and running, this surgery caused a
very traumatic brain injury.
Needless to say, Jacob did’t return to school in the ninth grade, but rather spent several
months at TIRR, a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, Texas.
After leaving the Houston hospital, Jacob received at-home therapies as well as being home-
schooled at home in Baton Rouge.
Jacob’s grandfather, Eldridge Durbin, helped get him to out-of-home therapies. In just one
short year of this life changing injury, Jacob entered the tenth grade at Christian Life
Academy. Miraculously, Jacob drove himself to school in his 300 Z car. Jacob finished high
school, receiving many honors and graduated seventh in his class.
This achievement did’t come easy though. In September of 1995 Jacob began a wait.
Still hurting inside from the losses from the surgery in 1992, Jacob learned that he needed a
heart transplant. Bewildered, but not stopped, Jacob decided he must continue to achieve.
After high school, Jacob was accepted at Louisiana State University (LSU). He began with the
desire to be a Journalist. Jacob also worked as a system computer programmer for a company
that booked hotel reservations.
Jacob would struggle across campus never letting his peers know anything was wrong. He was
a master at disguising his sickness. In April of 1998, Jacob had a defibrillator implanted in his
chest, was on nearly ten medications and continued to try to go to school and work.
Late in 1998, Jacob became very short of breath and in February of 1999, Jacob, his mom and
his dad moved to Houston, Texas to begin a fourteen month wait for a heart transplant.
Jacob left friends, his girl friend and fiancé, Valerie Thompson, and peers as they went on with
life, hoping to join them in just a few short months with a new heart.
Jacob encouraged himself with visions of being able to work out, have new stamina and run
with the best of them. At the very beginning of the wait in Houston, Jacob was on a
continuous drip of medication that enabled him to stay in an apartment rather than in the
hospital. This with other medications kept Jacob going.
Finally, on April 27, 2000, when Jacob was in the Texas Children's Hospital for a two-day
check up, he received a visit from the St. Lukes Hospital heart transplant coordinator.
They had found a new heart for Jacob. Jacob’s mom was with him in Houston, but his dad and
his brother were in Baton Rouge. Jimmy Reno, a friend, flew Joel and Matt to Houston, taking
off from the Baton Rouge airport at 12:00 midnight. Joel and Matt arrived at the hospital
shortly before 2:00 A.M., just minutes before he was leaving for surgery. His mom expressed
just how scared Jacob was as he was being prepared for the heart transplant surgery.
On April 28, 2000, Jacob received the heart transplant. This was the first of fourteen surgeries
in the one hundred seventy-two days that followed. Jacob received transfusions of many
different blood products and had hundreds of procedures during this short time.
Jacob, his mom and his dad always believed Jacob could make it though.
Jacob endured all these procedures, surgeries and transfusions with such courage, faith and
Through all this, Jacob’s faith encouraged many who learned of his struggle from friends and
family and the ExxonMobil prayer network emails.
So many who saw and heard of Jacob, engaged in prayer and support for Jacob and his family.
Many of those that prayed for and encouraged Jacob needed a way of expressing their love for
Jacob and his family. They encouraged Jacob’s family to establish the Jacob Ryan Bankston
Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund. Jacob’s family in memory of Jacob’s ambitions and the
many struggles with his heart condition, would like LSU to award the Jacob Ryan Bankston
Memorial Endowed Scholarship to people who have had a hard time achieving their academic
goals because of physical handicaps, but who have overcome the obstacles in life and want
and still wish to earn their undergraduate degrees.
The Jacob R. Bankston Scholarship
fund may be made by contacting,
Gwen L. Fairchild, CFRE,
Director of Planned Giving LSU Foundation
3838 W. LakeShore Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
ExxonMobil matches gifts 3 for 1 for gifts by any employee or family
members of an employee or for gifts by annuitants or
family members of an annuitant.
If you would like to contact Joel or Linda, call 713-858-2626 any time.
Many thanks to Rob Sale, Robert Russo and Charlie Roberts of the LSU
Alumni Magazine for their support and promotion of the
Jacob Ryan Bankston Scholarship
Winter 2004 Volume 80 Number 4
edition of the
LSU Alumni Magazine
Thanks to Jerry Shea to get this site publicized.
|This is Jacob's letter which was written by him to his
mom, dad, and brother, Matt, after he learned that he
Jacob was a second year student at LSU when he
moved from Baton Rouge to Houston to await his
heart transplant. Jacob received the transplant April
28, 2000. Jacob stayed in the St. Luke's Hospital ICU
172 days and went through 14 surgeries during that
Unfortunately, for all of us, Jacob passed away on
October 16, 2000 after humoral rejection. We believe
we will see Jacob again in heaven. This is our hope.
Jacob R. Bankston
The Jacob R. Bankston Memorial Endowed
Scholarship was established at Louisiana State
University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana for East
Baton Rouge public and private schools and
surrounding parishes graduates as a permanent
memorial to a beloved son, brother and friend
whose memory is forever on our hearts…
Joel W. Bankston, father
Linda Durbin Bankston, mother
Matthew Tyler Bankston, brother
Lacey Nichole Bankston, sister.
|Jacob Ryan Bankston
August 31, 1978
October 16, 2000